Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Microstory 1753: Mountain Table

I have to stop and take another break. I know that I only have a few more steps to go, but I’ll topple over if I don’t take a few seconds to catch my breath. I don’t hear my master up on the mountaintop. He’s probably on the far side of it, peeing over the edge, or laughing to himself about his accomplishments, of which there are many. Technically, everything he ever did was actually done by someone else; someone like me. Don’t tell him I’m complaining, though. A single word of slight displeasure with work conditions, and he’s sending me back down this mountain the quick route, if you know what I mean. It’s what he does. He’ll take any reason he can find to kill his servant, and move on to the next one. There always is another candidate waiting, so it’s not like he has to worry about doing any actual work on his own. I wish I could thank the ones who came before me, who learned his quirks and pet peeves, so the rest of us know what to expect. I just hope the guy just before me was the last to ever make a mistake. My sister tells me it doesn’t matter, that it’s not worth it. She thinks he’ll always find a reason, but I know that he has in mind the perfect life, and if I can give that to him, he’ll reward me. He’ll reward my entire family if I go above and beyond above and beyond, and that’s why there is always someone ready to take his servant’s place. If I get this right, he won’t need another servant until I’m dead. Then maybe my grandson will take over for me. That would be a dream come true. Okay, I can keep going now. Then I’ll assemble the pieces, and be finished with this once and for all. I’m grateful he didn’t demand that I bring the whole thing up here at once. That would have been impossible, and I would have become the first in an infinite series of servants to die on our respective first days.

I keep walking, and make it all the way to the top. Then I approach the pile of parts, and carefully set the last one down next to it. It’s the largest and heaviest one. When it’s finished, this will be the largest table in all the lands. Kings, warriors, and sorcerers from all over will one day hold meetings here. Dozens of sections will fit together on top of four times as many legs. Those were the easiest to do in the grand scheme of things. He let me take as much, or as little, as I wanted, and as much time as I needed. Unfortunately, the central leg structure was custom made by a follower of his, and it was constructed as a single piece, so I couldn’t take it apart, but that’s done now, and I’m ready to move on to the next phase. I begin to fit legs under leaves, and connect them all together. It goes quite fast, and I don’t need any more breaks. I suppose what I went through to get here has made me so strong that I feel invincible. Perhaps it’s a taste of my ultimate reward. I’m so proud of myself once it’s completely complete. I didn’t make any mistakes, or have to redo anything. It’s perfect, if I do say so myself. As if he knows it’s ready, my master appears from the other side of the ridge. He takes a long time to inspect my work, making me nervous, probably on purpose. He smiles and places a warm hand on my shoulder. “You have done well. It is a magnificent table.” I smile back and thank him for the praise. He continues, “now drag it over to that side, and flip it over the edge. Follow it down, as carefully as you would like, but be at the bottom by the end of the day. If you survive, commission the carpenter to make another one just like it, and then do it all over again.” He begins the trek down the steps, and I do as I’m told. After the fourth table, I don’t make it down the mountain in time, and he kills me for it.

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